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Google Filters, how to get around them and exploit their loop holes

03 Feb
February 3, 2007

Google Filter

I have been doing SEO for some time now and I have been witness to many a strange occurrence regarding serps. Most of these weird occurrence I would have to say are directly attributed to a Google Filter or Google penalty. So I have been inspired by a post over at webmasterworld and as far as I know there is not a current list out online that list’s all of the potential Google penalties so I have decided to put together an arbitrary list of potential Google Penalties. Please note that there is no proof i.e. press release from Google stating these exist but rather these are ideas, theories and assumptions from SEO’s experiences.

Google Sandbox: The Sandbox Filter is usually applied to brand new websites but has been seen to be applied to domains that have been around for a while. Since most websites do not make it past a year Google implemented a filter that will prevent a new site from getting decent rankings for competitive keyword terms. Usually brand new sites can still rank for non competitive keyword terms though.

How to work around the Sandbox: Google uses a system called trust rank. The idea behind trust rank is if authority sites link to your new site then you must be an authority site as well and since Google trust’s these older more respected sites it will trust your’s as well. Hence getting you out of the sandbox right away. That is not an easy thing to do so if you are not able to get these links then try expanding your content to rank for many more less competitive keywords and keyword phrases (long tail keywords).

Google -30: This Google filter is applied to site’s who use spammy seo tactics. When Google find you using doorway pages, java redirects etc then they will drop your rankings by 30 spots.

How to get around this: If you find yourself a victim of the Google -30 filter then usually just removing the spam elements on your site will get you back in. You can always fill out a request for re-inclusion is worse comes to worse. Here are some resources for the Google -30. Arelis, Threadwatch, SERoundtable.

Google Bombing: Google Bombing is a filter applied to sites who gain a large number of inbound links with the same anchor text. This raises a red flag to Google as it is extremely unnatural for an inbound linking structure to all have the exact same anchor text.

How to work around this: If your site actually has this filter applied then most likely you have been banned from the search engines and a re-inclusion request is probably your best bet. If the filter is not applied but through your monitoring you see this potential then you might want to go back and request people change your anchor text, buy some links with varying anchor text etc. Here are some resources for Google Bombing. Search Engine Watch, NYTimes, Google Blogspot.

Google Bowling: This is not really a filter as much as it is a series of black hat techniques that will get you banned. Usually people use this term in reference to competition or a page/site they want OUT of the serps. Google bowling is usually only effective to site’s that are much new with lower trust rank. Trying to do this to a large site with high trust rank is going to be virtually impossible.

How to get around this: Google says that there is nothing a competitor can do to drop YOUR rankings. Many seo’s do not believe this and if you seoblackhat sells services for something like this. Re-inclusion request is basically your only option. Here are some resources for Google Bowling. Web Pro News, ThreadWatch and SEroundtable.

Google Duplicate Content Filter: A duplicate content filter is applied to sites who take content that has already been created, cached and indexed on other sites. News sites are usually exempt from the duplicate content filter via a hand job. Usually the pages that have this applied are not ranked very well in the serps. Page Rank can be devalued and if a page does not have inbound links you could see your results being put into omitted search results and supplemental results.

How to get through this: If you find yourself in this filter then your first step can be trying to remedy the duplicate content. Contact the person stealing your content and ask them to remove it. You can contact the persons web host to see if they will take down there site and the last resort is “trying” to contact Google and alert them of what is going on. Keep on top of your content by using copyscape to check for duplicate content.

Google Supplemental Results: Google supplemental results take pages on your site that have been indexed and put them into a sub database in Google. Supplemental results do not rank well but rather Google uses its supplemental DB to populate its results when they don’t have enough results to show in a given query. This means pages on your site in Google’s supplemental DB will not help you in the serps.

How to get through this: Its pretty simple actually. Just get some inbound links to your pages. Check this post out to find out more about the Google Poo (supplemental results).

Google Domain name Age Filter: The Google domain name age filter is closely related to trust rank and the sandbox but it is possible to be out of the sandbox and have trust rank and still be in this filter. The idea behind this filter is that older sites and domain names are more likely to rank well for keyword terms then newer sites. If you are in this filter you will most likely not rank well for terms that are competitive until your site grows older.

How to work around this: Quality links from authority sites with high trust rank will help you do much better in the serps.

Google’s Omitted Results Filter: Pages within your website that are in omitted search results will not show up in a Google search unless a user specifically says to show all omitted results. Usually users do not even get to the last page to do this which makes any page of yours that is omitted completely out of a Google search result. The reason this happens is lack on inbound links, duplicate content, duplicate meta title, duplicate meta description and poor internal linking.

How to get out of this: In order to get pages are omitted out of this filter simply alter the meta tags and fix duplicate content and get some quality inbound links.

Google’s Trust Rank Filter: Like the PageRank algorithm the trust rank algorithm has many factors that determine a sites trust rank. Some of the known factors are the age of a site, the amount of quality authority links pointing to it, how many outbound links it has, the quality of its inbound linking structure, internal linking structure and overall SEO best practices on meta and url structure. All sites go through this filter and if your Trust Rank is low so will your rankings in the serps.

How to get work with this: An old site and a new site can both have high trust rank or low trust rank. It is basically determined by the amount of quality authority links pointing to it, how many outbound links it has, the quality of its inbound linking structure, internal linking structure and overall SEO best practices on meta and url structure. Optimize these and you will have quality Trust rank.

links.htm page filter: This filter penalizes a sites ranking determined by the use of a links.html page. Using reciprocal linking is a old technique that is not promoted by Google anymore. This filter effects your ranking in the serps.

How to work with this filter: Instead of using “links” as your page title and name try using something like “mynewbuddies” or “coolsites” as this will help get around this filter. Reciprocal links are old seo techniques and Google devalues reciprocal linking structures.Here is someone discussing this at SEOChat.


Reciprocal Link Filter: Google is very open about reciprocal linking and clearly states that their algorithm can detect reciprocal link campaigns. Usually sites that only participate in reciprocal linking will have a hard time ranking in the search engines but depending on what you are using your site for a reciprocal links campaign might be exactly what you need. For example if you are building an adsense site then you do not want to spend to much time building a site up and a reciprocal linking campaign will help your sites inbound links grow over time.

How to work with this filter: When it comes to building an inbound linking structure try to utilize some or all of the 15 types of links and how to get them post I did a ways back. Here are some resources about this filter. Matt Cutts here and here, Search engine guide and Webmasterworld.


Link Farming Filter: Link farms are sites/pages that have a mass amount of unrelated links grouped together arbitrarily. Link farms can also be related links but most commonly they are unrelated. IP farms and bad link neighborhoods are all part of link farming. Being a part of a link farm can get your rankings dropped in Google and possibly get you banned.

How to get around this: Currently the only way to get around this is to NOT participate in link farming. Here are some resources on link farming:

CO-citation Linking Filter: This popular filter by Google watches your inbound link structure. If your link is on a site who’s outbound links are related to casino’s and porn sites and your automotive site is an outbound link on this site then google will think your site is related to porn and casinos. Poorly constructed co-citation will damage your ranking and make it hard for you to rank well for the terms you are targeting.

How to work with this: When considering a link partner, paid link or monitoring your inbound links be sure to follow this linking quaility guidline page that was derived from Patrick Gavin over at text link ads.

To many links at once Filter: This filter is applied when to many inbound links are acquired by a site to fast. The result can lead to a ban across all search engines. How these links are obtained, how many and over what period of time are factors for this filter.

How to get around this: Simply do not participate in black hat linking schemes and link spaming and you should never have a problem with this. Here is some information concerning this filter over at Aaron Walls at SEObook.com,

To many Pages at once filter: Google is keen on natural site development. Anything that look “unnatural” is going to be flaged by the search engines. Having to many pages to fast will raise this flag/filter. Some people believe that 5000 is the max for pages in a month but this number in my opinion can fluctuate depending on other factors and filters your site might be going through at any given time. The effect of this filter can result in pages being omitted, pages in supplemental results and in the extreme case a Google ban.

How to get through this filter: If you have a system that pulls content in or are using a dynamic content generator be sure to limit it per week and I would stay under 5000 pages per month just to be on the safe side. Depending on how large or well known your site is then the limit will be adjusted.


Broken Link Filter: Broken internal links can cause pages from not being crawled, cached and indexed. If pages like your home page do not have a link back to it on all pages this can count against you in the serps and your overall quality score for things like PR. This is not just bad seo and bad site design but this is bad for your users and can cause poor traffic and poor serp ranking.

How to get through this: Make sure you have a quality footer, a sitemap that covers all of your pages in one central hub and make sure you test your site for broken links. (be sure to use full url’s in your linking via source code).

Page Load Time Filter: The page load filter is very simple. If your website takes to long to load then a spider will time out and move past your site or page. This will result in NEVER being cached and indexed. Ultimately this means your site or page will not be present in Googles SERPS.

How to work with this: Make sure your pages are optimized for load time. Make sure if you are using flash or many images you use java pre-load coding. Make sure you limit the file size of your page’s as much as possible to make sure the spiders can read the entire document and be sure to use web 2.0 and css best practices.

Over Optimization Filter: Over optimization can cause a Google ban or hardship in rankings. Over optimization could be considered keyword stuffing, to much keyword density and keyword proximity optimization, meta tag stuffing etc. Stay away from over optimization.

How to get around this: Don’t over optimize!!!!

There are some filter’s I have not mentioned but I thought I would give a smaller list of other filters that could be attributed to Google:

Keyword Stuffing Filter:
Meta Tag Stuffing Filter:
Automated Google Query Filter:
IP Class Filter:
Google Toolbar Filter:
Click through Filter in serps:
Traffic Filter:
Google -950 Filter:
I would like to hear what other SEO professionals have to say about my list as I have seen a lot of these and I have heard other’s speak of these and since Google has not come out and told all of use which filters exists and do not exists please consider this an excersize of knowledge expansion for all ;-) .

P.S. Mark Blair put together a very nice printable pdf file version of this post for your downloadable and printable pleasure ;-) . Thanks Mark!

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    89 replies
    « Older Comments
    1. Charles Knight says:

      Another excellent article! Can you set up a “print ”
      article feature?

    2. Krishna Kumar says:

      Great article. This is really an easy summary of what to focus on and what not to in SEO.

    3. TV says:

      Thank you for your articles!
      With this article you provide great insight in the matter of google penalties.
      Sometimes it is hard to figure out what’s allowed and what isn’t.

      ‘t would be great if this article was updated every 6 months or so.

    4. Matt Keegan says:

      Thank you for bringing this information out into the open. I recently witnessed some odd changes with my sites immediately following the latest PR update.

      Google really does not like duplicate content, therefore it behooves us to make sure that what appears on our sites is original material.

    5. Rob Hughes says:

      Yes – agreed – excellent article – would be great if you had a “Print” version.

    6. MarkZZ says:

      I’m not too sure about this list to be honest. There’s some good stuff on here and some very, very dubious stuff… Getting links too fast will get you banned on all search engines? Do you have an example of this? I will be writing an analysis of this post tomorrow on my blog – see if I can challenge some of your ideas :)

      Great blog though, enjoy reading it!

    7. joe.whyte says:

      Hey Markzz,

      This filter post was mainly focusing on google filters in the united states. I probably will need to go back and mention that. Foriegn optimization is still a few years behind american search as doing link spam and keyword stuffing can get you to the top of a foriegn search engine pretty fast without getting banned.

    8. Peter Laird says:

      Can you elaborate on this statement:

      “If pages like your home page do not have a link back to it on all pages this can count against you in the serps and your overall quality score for things like PR.”

      I thought self-links within a site do not count for PR. So any links to abc.com/home.htm from any page in abc.com would not count. Incorrect?

      Or is this because the algorithm feels this is bad design, and therefore is a levying a penalty for a missing link back to home?

    9. Jerrol says:

      As if we needed further proof that Page Rank has issues, just try not getting included in auto generated link farms and having your content stolen and misused by bots. I can’t tell you have many sites that I’ve found that include our URL in irrelevant link databases and indexes/directories that pull content directly from our pages and either link to us with that content or to a different website entirely.

      To make matters worse, when checking the server headers, I find ‘less than ideal’ redirects, though it looks more to me like incompetence than anything really deliberate.

      Obviously I don’t like the idea of getting blacklisted/penalized for things outside my control, so hopefully Google is aware of this type of behavior.

      The other thing that concerns me is the ‘too many pages too fast’ filter because we’re preparing to launch a new build of our site having switched from a dynamic solution (which google hasn’t been able to see) to a static one (complete with sitemap.xml), and we’ll easily blast through the 5k page mark.

      Tripes aside, this is a great article, and it’s nice to see all this information compiled in one place.

    10. Elias Kai says:

      I read it carefully and I had a hand on all those filters. But can you explain how come this http://www.notarylaw.com is up for poker related terms, top 20 serps ?

    11. mblair says:

      Really nice way to lay it all out on the table. Kudos!

    12. sinu kumar says:

      very useful article. thanx

    13. kerouac3001 says:

      IMHO: your article is a half-truth :)

    14. Keldi says:

      Great Article, I think I will read it once more later, to know on what focus in Google SEO.
      Thanks for PDF file.

    15. Matt Stoddart says:

      Joe,

      I thought that was a great post. Interesting that nobody has done that before when you consider all of the speculation that runs a muck in the forums and blogosphere.

    16. Angelo Palma says:

      Grazie Joe,

      un ottimo articolo che Google farebbe bene a tenere in considerazione e a inserire come “regole sulla qualita’” nei Webmaster Tools.

      Thank you a lot !

    17. Giorgio Tomasi says:

      Hi I found this interesting, but, my personal experience is that you need a lot and I mean a lot of good, relavant links. One way links to you = better. The problem is that in any case you are never sure what is going on. I hit 2nd place on Yahoo and on MSN but do not exist for Googel…Ive done all the optimising on site possible… and it works for Yahoo but Google… they are …. nevermind.

    18. joe.whyte says:

      Danny Sullivan re-posted my blog post on potential penalties and listed a few ones I missed.

      * Google\’s Two Word Keyword Filter?
      * Country Specific Filters & Weights
      * The Network Filter
      * The Hyphen Filter

      Thanks Danny!!!

      http://searchengineland.com/070206-101047.php

    19. clickfire says:

      Very nice to see all these together in one list. Great work, Joe!

    20. presell page man says:

      Joe, thank you very much for this high quality post.

      While there are a ton of good posts and articles out there, this is the first time I see SO many different filter types listed and explained…

      And I’m sticking around for some time already :-)

      cheers
      presell page man

    21. Dieter Komendera says:

      Very nice and interesting article. Thanks for that!

    22. Helmut says:

      this post of yours was interesting to read, thogh lots of things here need real examples ;) SEO is a tricky thing, no doubt.

    23. robert says:

      Thank you- I’ve never thought that there are so many filters…

    24. Gio says:

      Good.
      Very useful.
      GREAT STUFF!

    25. seo promotion says:

      I found your website through your profile at 9rules.com and came across this page. An excellent and comprehensive article on Google Filters. Well done!

    26. Joris Roebben says:

      Great artilcle Joe. But there’s some info I don’t agree with. In order to outrank your concurrent websites, all you have to do is get their link posted on some porn- or gambling websites. That seems a little bit far fetched. Apart from that, great and interesting article !!! We’ll be following your posts in the next weeks….

    27. mark says:

      interesting article but is more focused on one search engine and their algorithm, though some can be applied to other se’s but some dont like on yahoo and msn.

    28. Natali+Rainman says:

      “Google Sandbox” – Very useful clause, thanks. Has helped.

    29. Webmaster Labor says:

      Great article, Joe. I just want to add to your fix re duplicate content. Webmasters could also use my site’s free duplicate content checker at http://www.webmasterlabor.com/tools/checker It does the following:
      compare unpublished text to published text, compare your text to google (line by line), compare your text to existing database, and compare your text to your source urls. Very nifty tool and we use it for all our client’s text work. Great blog and keep the killer entries coming. I’ve definitely bookmarked this entry!

    30. alwaysonvacation says:

      About Supplemental Results: Its pretty simple actually. Just get some inbound links to your pages. Check this post out to find out more about the Google Poo (supplemental results).

      So, I have more than 30,000, I have to get inbound links for all of my site’s pages to get rid of supplemental results, right? Isn’t too much time taking and labourious work to get inbound link for each and every supplemental page?

    31. webpunkt says:

      It’s time to develop new SEO techniques :-)
      But don’t forget that content and good webdesign is base for your result.

    32. Natalie says:

      Нmm… Very interested idea from you, Webpunkt :D

    33. Melissa B. says:

      Great article on Google Filters! Thanks for posting…
      Cheers:)

      Melissa B.
      SEO Specialist
      Think Profits.com Inc.
      Vancouver Web Design & Search Engine Optimization

    34. Karlonia says:

      Thank you for this list. Some of these filters I have never heard of before, but I think that I have managed to avoid most of them.

    35. Commercial Property says:

      I’ve been doing some research into Google filters, especially the “too many links” filter, and came across this page. Great summaries, a lot of good info on one page. Thanks.

      -Nick

    36. gvk says:

      Hi

      Can u check my site are all the things in perfect! or do i need to change anything?

      Thanks in advance

    37. Seo blogger says:

      Great list, thanks a lot! Very helpful for google seo.

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